Mine was found with the passing of my dear friend and business partner Gary Everson of AIDS in 1995.
He was a dedicated advocate for the local non-profit Inspire Youth Project, (formerly Rise N’ Shine.) So, now, by extension, so am I. My long-time dedication to the success of Inspire Youth Project (IYP) has never wavered. Just as from my first experience with the staff 15 years ago, I remain in awe of their advocacy of and dedication to these kids. The life-lasting care and lessons learned are inspiring examples of what IYP has accomplished! In fact, I have been so inspired I became the Board President of IYP influenced in large
part by the real growth and measurable success that I’ve seen every year. They have earned my respect and admiration. The AIDS epidemic and its terrible aftermath is far from over. Our children suffer the ongoing pain and confusion that comes with an immediate family member afflicted with HIV/AIDS. That never goes away. Ever. Now, because our mentor-ship, counseling and advocacy programs are so strong we have expanded IYP's reach to also touch the children of Childhaven. We have now taken their kids under our wing to nurture them and guide them on their journeys.
I have witnessed
numerous examples of children who have grown to be productive young adults, impacted by the love of Inspire Youth Project. One of the most inspiring moments I experienced was at camp. I saw two children, from ethnically diverse backgrounds, 5 years different in age, comfort one another with hugs and tears when reminded during the memorial service of their individual losses.
A truly humbling experience for me and a deep reminder of why Inspire Youth Project is so important and impactful. So long as children are in need, IYP is determined to help – and I’m equally determined to ensure the organization has the resources it needs to continue it’s amazing work. Inspire Youth Project is the voice for these children, dedicated to putting them on the path to LONG TERM SUCCESS.
I’ve long taken a direct interest in how we raise funds for this valuable organization. Twelve years ago, I started a casual, fun poker tournament in my home as a different and exciting way to bring people together and raise money and to break away from traditional long and sometimes boring dinners and auctions. Each year, as word got out about out unique approach, a few more friends and supporters would join the fun and support the cause. Today, it has far outgrown its humble beginnings. Two years ago, we made a major growth step to double attendance, combining both the men’s and women’s tournaments, moving to a bigger venue and threw in some great surprises to raise more than ever for our kids! Our first year, Poker Slam raised $19,640.. last year we raised more than $165,000! Amazing! But make no mistake, while we have grown, it still feels like you are in my living room! This year we will be bringing in a surprise musical guest, combining the men and women's tournaments, bigger and better prizes, as well as new and fun auction items for a truly memorable event! See you at Poker Slam 2015!